cover image Murder Your Employer: The McMasters Guide to Homicide

Murder Your Employer: The McMasters Guide to Homicide

Rupert Holmes. Avid Reader, $28 (400p) ISBN 978-1-4516-4821-8

Edgar winner Holmes (Swing) frames this cheeky 1950s-set crime novel as a self-study guide for those who can’t afford tuition to the McMasters Conservatory for the Applied Arts, a “finishing school for finishing people off” whose location is kept secret from even those enrolled. The book-within-a-book’s author, McMasters dean Harbinger Harrow, chronicles the experiences of three students to educate at-home pupils by example. Baltimore engineer Cliff Iverson, British hospital worker Gemma Lindley, and incognito Hollywood star Dulcie Mown may hail from different walks of life, but all are at McMasters for the same reason: to learn how to kill their sadistic employers without getting caught. Harbinger warns from the start that not all three students will succeed in their respective missions, fostering a sense of mystery surrounding who fails, why they fail, and how spectacularly. Though the book feels overlong, sapping some of its drive, and Holmes never fully commits to his conceit, his farcical plotting, idiosyncratic characters, and witty, stylish prose combine for a fun, frothy read. Fans of humorous historical fiction will be well entertained. Agent: Jennifer Joel, ICM Partners. (Feb.)